Monday, October 31, 2005

Student Internet Use and the 3 Ps

As the Internet is used more and more in our classrooms, not to mention at home, teachers have a responsibility to educate students about critically viewing sites they visit. As teachers our role is not to prevent our students from seeing commercial propaganda, but rather, it is to equip our students with the necessary decoding and analyzing skills to properly assess and make decisions about what they are viewing. It is our responsibility as teachers to ensure students have the “savvy” to understand what they are seeing. Really, even if we wanted to remove commercialism it would be impossible. The Internet is increasingly becoming invaluable, indispensable and completely integrated into the curriculum. Most web sites are sponsored by or are promoting one product or another. It is impossible to avoid.

Propaganda and persuasion are potentially inconvenient and costly, however, the third P word, perversion is downright dangerous. Education of potential dangers regarding providing personal information is not only necessary, but would be negligent not to. The Internet is increasingly becoming a place for (potential) child abusers to stalk their prey.  Students must be wary of how and where they release identifying information.  Chat rooms, should always be anonymous and free from identifiers.

We must teach our students to “surf” wisely, with the intelligence and critical thinking skills needed to deduce and respect the 3 Ps – propaganda, persuasion and perversion for what they are - something to get the student to do something they might not do otherwise. Then students will be better equipped to make informed decisions regarding how they respond to what they come across online.


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